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the writing dominatrix.

December 1, 2010

call me a switch, really, but i can put on my dominatrix leathers for this – my list of writing pet peeves! (ps: this blog post is brought to you by the abstraction of “insanity”.)

disclaimer: don’t read on if pictures of BDSM implements bother you. nothing is explicit or vulgar, and everything is gone about with a sense of humour.

right. so.

often on this blog i try to be as positive as possible, and be as diplomatic as possible, and cover my tracks. but not today. for a while now i’ve been writing down things that bother me in writing and forms of writing, and so this post is going to be a sort of laundry list of those things. consider it a style guide, and if you ever send anything to me to be edited or looked at, don’t you dare have any of these things, or i will throttle you… ooh yeah. let me put on my underbust, and SORRY IN ADVANCE for swears and caps locks but sometimes, as an editor and a writer, as a grad student who attends workshops, as someone who occasionally reads the Prism International slushpile, i see a lot of stuff.

spelling mistakes make me feel like this. but with less eyepatch.

snap snap.

a few go without saying, but i’m still going to say them because marking undergrad papers brings them to the forefront of my mind:

your/you’re – i’m sorry, but haven’t enough people talked about the difference between your/you’re? if you’re still making this mistake without having a legitimate learning disorder, you deserve to be smacked with a dressage whip. pretend that apostrophe is an “a”. you’re = you ARE. your = something that belongs to you. honestly, i’m going to start copy-editing people’s frigging facebook posts. this is just the most annoying and most wide-spread grammar mistake. get a grip.

were/where/wear – also awful.

they’re/their/there – doubly awful.

i can’t even talk about these. they deserve six of the best – a rattan caning – at the spot where the bum meets the legs (ouch!)

those are spelling mistakes that any editor would actually pull their hair out over. (or another person’s hair out over). when i am marking, if i see one of those, i automatically disengage from the piece. if i see two, i lower the mark substantially. and i don’t think that’s a crime at all! i had an english professor at queen’s who would take off 3% for every major grammatical error! let me see if i can remember them – dangling modifier, tense agreement, err…. comma splice.. and one more that i can’t remember. anyway, i only ever made that mistake once, and it was enough. (i effed up tense agreement.)

i do not want.

do NOT WANT.

continuing…

definately – this is not a word. you are spelling DEFINITELY wrong.

intrical – this is also not a word guess what? i looked this up on the OED and it doesn’t exist. stop saying this in place of integral, which is what you mean. honestly, if you do this, you deserve a bullwhip across the backs of the thighs, but since the bullwhip is a tool that can have serious negative connotations (similar to the cat o’ nine tails that was used in american slavery) i’ll shy away from the bullwhip.

the word “cum” in general. i realise that people spell it like that, but if you need to write about semen, either write semen, or come. there is something incredibly slangy with that “u”. and it looks like something a 7th grader would write.

quite – this is something that i don’t feel so strongly about, but a teacher once told me that the word “quite” is useless. and now i try to strike it from a lot of my writing. it is pretty useless when i think about it.

could of. – it’s could have.

poems about love i realise that this a pretty broad… thing. and let me explain. (i have written these love poems, too. i am no saint.) but in order for a poem about love to really interest me, it has got to really knock my socks off. be weird, and jarring, and take a really different approach to this age old and battered subject. al purdy’s necropsy of love (one of my favourite love poems. if you want to get in good with me, just read it out loud to me… ohhhhhhhhh) does this – love becomes a sword, visceral and violent. (at the time, this was not trite). everyone writes poems about love. i don’t want to read them anymore. i don’t want to write them anymore. i don’t want to edit them anymore. otherwise you get a big old ballgag shoved in your mouth. BARF. and in that vein…

poems about sex. kind of. this is my opinion: if you’re going to write a poem about sex, do it or don’t. give me the goods – actual names for body parts, and bodily functions, and the like – don’t just tiptoe around it. sex is one of the most blunt and (sometimes) most honest things. don’t use euphemisms unless that is the point of the poem. this would be a spidergag worthy error. which leads to…

slang terms for body parts. JUST SAY PENIS. JUST SAY VAGINA.

making love. nope. not going to work. it’s “having sex.”

descriptions of eyes. okay, this is hard, because everyone has to describe eyes at some point. i am guilty of this because i like to describe eyebrows, which are just as trite. any of these are bad:

– chocolate eyes
– whisky coloured eyes
– limpid eyes
– brimming eyes
– sapphire eyes
– emerald eyes

also, if you describe eyes as pools, that is not okay. have you ever heard of a crux decussata?

“sparkling” –  “glinda the good witch.”

dialect – is a frigging hard thing to write. right now i’m trying to write a northern irish dialect into my writing (hard. very hard. that is a very specific and blunt dialect) and it’s a difficult thing. i dislike it when people write accents into the words – for example, if someone if someone is writing a russian accent and writes “ve” instead of “we”. just state that your character has a thick accent and then write without all those word edits. it distracts the reader.

rhyming. ooh, another tough one, because it is totally possible that a writer can pull off a rhyming poem and it can be wonderful. but the odds of that are slim slim slim, and if you are doubtful, just don’t do it. it inflicts pain on the people who edit it. if you do a bad rhyme, i’m going to hog-tie you, kinbaku style.

on a bit of a less cranky-arsed side note: these are a few words that i wish had more synonyms. i can never find the right words to replace these, even on OED. they just don’t exist:

– lover
– moan/groan
– howl
– murmur

hm. i can’t think of any more and my vitriol has just run out. i live in a glass house and i’m throwing stones. oh well, chuck the stones right back at me. i’m okay with it.

it’s freaking hard! i know it’s hard to write. i do it every day. every single day i look at what i’ve written and think “OH GOD THIS IS THE WORST PIECE OF SHITE. EVER.” and then on some other days i go “hm. this is all right.” and then on some other days i think i’ve written something very beautiful. (god, can you tell that i’m in my insane-final countdown-first draft-thesis mode? answer: yes.)

of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this is just according to me. but if you’re submitting something to me for a quick edit, for god’s sake, adhere to this damn style guide, or i’ll give you a spanking. not kidding. with the back of my wooden, wide hairbrush. hard!

and if you want to see what the inside of my head looks like lately, it’s this, one of the most beautiful music videos i’ve ever seen. there’s a really twisted backstory to this video – ask me for it:

 

i just want this thesis to be over.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 6:56 am

    Can I add that when people say “suppose to” instead of “supposed to” I want to smother someone with a bag? Same goes for “use to” instead of “used to”.

    Things that cross my desk with these errors earn my eternal hate, and I don’t think that’s an overreaction.

  2. krissy permalink
    December 1, 2010 2:34 pm

    shit. I think I just used murmur. well, a spot on my body — your choice, below the neck — is reserved for you to strike.

    my pet peeve– when people say/write “renumerate” when they mean “remunerate” when they’re talking about someone getting paid.

    • December 1, 2010 5:52 pm

      i use murmur all the time too! i just wish that there was another word in the english language that carried the exact same weight and meaning but wasn’t “murmur.”

  3. January 13, 2013 1:10 pm

    You really put together several fantastic items in your blog, “the writing dominatrix.

    everywhere leonine.”. I will wind up coming back again to ur page soon.
    With thanks ,Yukiko

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